Sanctuary celebrates new projects | News | The Press and Standard

by | March 1, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: February 28, 2018 at 3:24 pm

A chilling rain started coming down in the minutes leading up to Feb. 26’s new projects dedication held at the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary.
The program, organized by the city, was scheduled to celebrate two new additions to the sanctuary: a 13-foot red rocker installed at the Detreville Street parking area and a virtual tour system throughout the sanctuary.
Terri Boone, Leadership Colleton coordinator for the Class of 2016, told those gathered under the trees or under umbrellas, “I think this is a perfect day to be in the sanctuary. It’s really swampy, everything that lives here is happy with the rain.”
Boone was at the ceremony to celebrate the partnership that had brought the massive red rocker to the sanctuary.
As their class project, the Class of 2016 decided to have the rocker constructed by Thunderbolt Career and Technology Center’s Building and Construction Technology students.
The idea, she said, came from Walterboro Tourism Director Michelle Strickland, a member of the Class of 2016. “She wanted a larger-than-life representation. Michelle really made it happen.”
The red rocker, Boone said, has become symbolic of Walterboro and the Front Porch of the Lowcounty marketing initiative the city adopted approximately a decade ago.
Mayor Bill Young told the audience the city had taken steps to make the red rocker a registered trademark of the city.
He said that he visited the sanctuary on Feb. 24 and watched as a young boy, about eight-years-old, got out of the family car, climbed up into the rocking chair’s seat and posed as his mom took pictures.
“That is exactly want we wanted to see happen,” the mayor said. “I thought it was great.”
Mike Swearingen, the TCTC building and construction technology instructor, followed Boone to the podium.
Swearingen said in his early conversations with Strickland about the red rocker, “she wanted a gigantic rocking chair, a 20- or 30-foot-tall rocking chair. I talked her down to 13 feet.”
Throughout the process, he added, Michelle “was very hands on.”
Swearingen, who has taught in the Colleton County School District’s vocational program for the last four years, said he wanted to talk about “the kids in Colleton County.”
Since starting at Thunderbolt, Swearingen explained, “every year I have made it a little harder. I’ve been raising the bar each year.”
Facing his students who attended the ceremony, Swearingen said they have accepted the challenge. “They do things that amaze me every day and make me proud to be a teacher.”
Moultrie Plowden, chairperson of FROGS (Friends of the Great Swamp Sanctuary) told the audience that the work of Jacob Huggins was also being celebrated during the dedication, representing the latest installment of the partnership FROGS has developed with the area’s Boy Scouts — a partnership that is benefiting the sanctuary.
Huggins’ virtual tour, was the result of his “working through the technical challenges that he met and overcame.”
Dr. Eran S. Kilpatrick, a biology professor at U.S.C.-Salkehatchie who worked with Huggins to build the virtual tour, also saw the significance of celebrating in the rain.
“Rain is the lifeblood of these wetlands,” Kilpatrick said. “These things are a treasure.”
The ceremony came to a soggy close as Young presented proclamations celebrating those who sought to improve the sanctuary through their efforts.

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